Is a cashless society just around the corner?

It’s been talked about for a long time as a possibility, and now it seems that it may well become reality. With contactless payments now above 60% of all transactions, cash is becoming more of a ‘niche’ payment method. How many times do you go to pay for something and before you can even pull out your wallet the cashier has fired up the eftpos machine? It’s almost a surprise when you hand over cash these days! Even ATM withdrawals have drastically reduced to an average of only 25 per year per customer. In contrast, Australians make, on average, nearly 500 electronic payments a year, up from around 100 per year in the year 2000, according to the RBA, as Australia becomes the sixth most cashless society in the world.

Sweden, where cash transactions make up less than 2 per cent of the value of all payments made, is at the top of the list. There, it is difficult to buy a metro ticket with cash and churches take digital donations on offering plates through an app.

RBA Governor Dr Philip Lowe says it is also likely that the cheque system of payment will be completely scrapped in the not-too-distant future, with the average number of cheque payments falling from 45 per person in the mid-1990s to just three per person in 2018. The high costs involved with cheque payments are becoming prohibitive, and will eventually require phasing out.

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